Today's post, 30th July 2011, is dedicated to one of the most reputable paintings of the 19th century which, unsurprisingly, was reproduced by several jigsaw puzzle manufacturers.
Victorians were attracted to railway stations, rather peculiarly finding them exciting and glamorous places. The Railway Station (Paddington) was painted by Yorkshireman, William Powell Frith R.A. in 1862, and attracted enormous interest. Many social gatherings of mixed classes are integrated into the painting with some interpretation open to the eyes and minds of the beholders. The painting includes people going on holiday, a mother sending off her two sons to school, a criminal being arrested by policemen and a bride and groom leaving for their honeymoon. It is thought that Frith included himself, his wife and his mistress in the painting. He also included the man who commissioned the painting for £4,500, Louis Victor Flatlow, but not as the engine driver as Flatlow had wished. He is the person standing beside the locomotive.
Frith received a lot of help with the painting. For authenticity he copied photographs of the station and of an 'Iron Duke' class 4-2-2 locomotive by photographer Samuel Fry. The structural detail in the painting is thought to be have done by the architectural draughtsman, William Scott Morton. Louis Flatlow later sold on the reproduction rights to the painting for £16,000, a profitable venture.
The jigsaw (cardboard) shown in the photographs, in full and cameo form, is the Falcon 'Panorama' (102 x 35cm) puzzle of 1000 pieces, simply titled The Railway Station. Chad Valley, Optimago and Wentworth also reproduced the painting as wooden jigsaws.